Saturday, August 29, 2009

Legend of the Watermelon....a Vietnamese legend

Once upon a time, the sixth son of King Hung Vuong the Fifth named An-Tiem disobeyed the King's order and was exiled to a deserted island.

The Prince had to build his own shelter, dig a well for water, and fish and hunt animals for food. One day, he found a green fruit as big and round as a ball. He split the fruit into halves and found the inside of the fruit red. He dared not eat it because he was afraid it was poisonous.

Days passed and the dry and sunny season came. It was so hot that all the plants were dry and the well had no water left. One day An-Tiem was so tired and thirsty that he tasted the fruit He found out that it tasted delicious and quenched his thirst. He tried to grow the plant around his house then. Soon the whole island was covered with the green fruit.

An-Tiem carved the island's name and his own on some of the fruit and threw them into the sea. Later, seamen found the strange fruit with An-Tiem's name floating in the sea.

Soon, words about the fruit reached the continent and many merchants tried to find the way the island. This then turned the deserted island into a busy island. The island was now crowded. Many boats came and went. An-Tiem helped anyone who wanted settle on the island. Soon, news about that reach the King.

King Hung Vuong was very proud of having a son who was brave and strong enough to overcome difficulties without anyone's help. An-Tiem was immediately summoned back to the court. He brought his fruit with him to offer the King, his father. The King gave him his crown and An-Tiem became King Hung Vuong VI.

Since then the fruit which was called "dua hau" and has become the symbol of luck; people often offer it to relatives and friends as a New Year present.

Summers almost over so rush out and get those watermelon!!

Watermelon Dippers

8 ounces sour cream
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Watermelon stix or small wedges

Blend together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small serving bowl. Use as a dip for the watermelon.

Watermelon Slushie

8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
6 ounce frozen lemonade concentrate thawed(1 can)

Place watermelon in a large bowl; cover and freeze.
Place half of frozen watermelon, half of powdered sugar, and half of concentrate in a blender, and process until smooth.
Do the same procedure with the other half of the ingredients.
Serve while cold.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Omusubi Kororin - TheTumbling Rice Balls

Long ago and far away across the wide blue sea, there lived a hard working old man and old woman.
One day, the old man went up into the mountains to gatherwood. When he sat down to eat his lunch, one of his rice balls tumbled away.
Down the slope of the mountain it tumbled until it finally rolled into a large hole. The old man chased after the rice ball and stopped at the hole.
He bent down to look inside and from within the hole he heard a soft song.

A Rice ball tumbling suttenton
A Rice ball tumbling suttenton

The old man was very excited, so he climbed back up the mountain, picked up another rice ball and rolled it away.
Down it tumbled into the hole.
When he crouched down near the hole he heard the song once more.

A Rice ball tumbling suttenton
A Rice ball tumbling suttenton

The old man peeked into the hole, but as he did he overbalanced and tumbled right into the hole itself. As he tumbled he heard another song.

An Old man tumbling suttenton
An Old man tumbling suttenton

In the hole was a mouse world, where hundreds of little mice were happily singing and making rice cakes.
"Thank you for the rice balls, kind sir. We will treat you to a feast to repay your kindness. Come and join us in our song," they called.
And so the old man and the mice sang,

A Rice ball tumbling suttenton
A Rice ball tumbling suttenton

An Old man tumbling suttenton
An Old man tumbling suttenton

Little mice tumbling suttenton
Little mice tumbling suttenton

The old man had a wonderful time singing and dancing with the mice.
"Thank you for the feast, but now it is time for me to go home,” he said.
“Wait, old man,” said the smallest mouse, and he gave him a box. “Here is our gift to you.”
When the old man returned home, he opened the box and was astounded to find it filled with money and treasure.

“There are enough riches to last us all our days,” the old man said to the old woman. And they were very happy for the rest of their lives.

However, when the old man told his story to a greedy, old neighbour, the greedy, old man thought he would do exactly the same thing, so that he too could receive a fortune from the mice world.
He immediately went into the mountains and dropped two rice balls into the hole, then tumbled in himself.

A rice ball tumbling suttenton
A rice ball tumbling suttenton

An old man tumbling suttenton

Hundreds of mice were happily singing and making rice cakes.
After the greedy old man entered the mouse world, he decided to chase away the mice and keep all of the treasures for himself. So he pretended to be a cat and began to miaow.
The frightened little mice scattered every which way and disappeared.

Just as the greedy, old man thought he could now take all the treasure, everything went black. He realized that the money and treasure had vanished with the mice and now he was left with nothing. Not even a rice ball. Only after a long time scrabbling around on his hands and knees in the darkness, was he able to find the entrance to the hole and leave the mouse world.

Since that time, no one has ever found the mouse world again.
Although sometimes, if you are walking high up in the mountains of Japan, you may hear this song carried by the wind.

A Rice ball tumbling suttenton,suttenton,suttenton…


you can "hear" the story told at this site

Rice balls are called onigiri in Japan.
Rice balls are usually shaped into rounds or triangles and often wrapped in nori(edible seaweed).
Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with pickled ume (fruit similar to a plum or apricot), salted salmon or any other salty or sour ingredient.
Onigiri is not a form of sushi.
Onigiri is made with plain rice, sometimes lightly salted, while sushi is made of rice with sugar and vinegar added to it.

Warning!!! "Regular" rice will not work. You need "sushi/japanese" rice. Really!!!